Union Lodge no 7

Union Lodge No. 7

 Union Lodge No. 7 has earned the designation:

 “Cornerstone Lodge 2016 – 2018″

“The lodge deserves to be extremely proud of the level of proficiency that it has achieved and you are to be commended for your dedication and determination in meeting the Cornerstone challenge.” – Brother 2 Brother Team

Meets Second Thursday of Each Month, 7:30 p.m.

(except July and August)




Regular MeetingsSept. – June2nd Thurs.
Official VisitJanuary2nd Thurs.
InstallationJune2nd Thurs.

Contact Information

History of Union Lodge No. 7

It all started when eight pioneer settlers met to form a lodge at the Forty Mile Creek. A warrant authorizing the Lodge had been previously issued by the Grand Lodge of England, for a Lodge of Masons at the Forty Mile Creek in Upper Canada, to be numbered 761 on the English Register and No. 15 on the Provincial Lodge Register. The Lodge'[s first meeting was held December 17, 1799 in the house of John Foot, known as the Red Tavern. It was located at about 55 Main Street East, where Grimsby Chrysler used to be. It was a popular place for the villagers to meet and socialize. Meetings of the lodge were held on a regular basis in homes and Taverns in the early days, and all proceedings were faithfully recorded in the minute books. These books have been carefully preserved, and are in the possession of the lodge today.

At a meeting dated December 27, 1799 the name was unanimously agreed upon to become Union Lodge No. 15. The name Union had no special significance other than to have meant Unity among the brethren.

The Forty was being settled by many United Empire Loyalists who lost their property in the Mohawk Valley, New York and fled to Canada. One of them, Colonel Robert Nelles, came to this district with his family between 1783-1787, where he had served as a Scout in the British army, during the American War of the Revolution. He soon became a force in the business, religious, Masonic, political and military life at The Forty.

He built around him a small community, three buildings of which stand today – “The Manor,” 126 Main St. West, was built in 1798, and is often termed the oldest house between Niagara and the Bay of Quinte, The Colonial frame house on the corner of 125 Main St. West, and the small stone cottage, across from Trinity United Church, at 99 Main Street West.

His name headed the subscription list of those who were responsible for the building of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church and he generously gave the land on which it was built.

He was installed as the first Worshipful Master of Union Lodge.

He owned and operated a Mill, an Inn, a stage-coach and boat service. He bought and shipped wheat and lumber by boat, from the old wharf at the west of the Forty Mile Creek, to Montreal. He was elected Township Warden from 1797 until 1801, at which time he was elected to the Legislature of Upper Canada. He represented Lincoln, W. York and Haldimand from 1801 to 1808 and again from 1813 to 1820.

Col. Robert Nelles was largely responsible for the formation of the 4th Lincoln Regiment, of which he was in command at the end of the War of 1812. He served all during the war and was in the battles of Queenston Heights and Lundy’s Lane.

Using Col. Nelles and other founding members like Woolverton, Nixon, Pettit, and Moore, is easy to see that the Masonic Brethren were very active in the formation of The Forty. This is perhaps why it was appropriate for Union Lodge #7 to be one of the two major exhibits that opened the new Grimsby Museum in 1984.

The lodge history is rich with many interesting events that occurred over the next 200 years. The following is only a list of a few of the highlights.

– Union Lodge was a founding member of the current Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario when it was formed in 1855. At that time it was designated Union Lodge #4. On the final amalgamation of the Provincial Grand Lodge and the Grand Lodge of Canada in 1858, it was given its present number – seven, the perfect number.

– W.Bro. F.J. Lundy was named the first Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Canada.

– The lodge met in several buildings throughout the downtown core before settling in their present building, known as Temple Building October 21, 1920. It was built by Bro. James Wray, who ran a hardware store downstairs. The upper floor was constructed as a lodge hall.

– M.W. Bro. William J. Drope, a member of Union Lodge #7 who went on to become Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada in 1923, was an educator of some renown. He owned and operated the Lake Lodge Boy’s Private School for 31 years until his death in 1927.  During this time he also took a keen interest in the Public School system, serving on the Grimsby School Board for a number of years, and as its Chairman in 1918.

– Prior to September 29, 1960 Union Lodge met by the light of the full moon, for its meeting date was the Thursday on or before the full moon. This gave early travelers light to travel by going to and from meeting. Walking, horseback and canoe were common forms of transportation before the automobile.

– Two more recent significant dates would be January 8, 1997 and December 17, 1999. The first being the date of the tragic fire which swept through the Lodge hall, and the second being the Lodge’s Bi-Centennial Celebration.

Perhaps no other organization in Grimsby has had such a significant impact on its formation.

Relative of Col. Robert Nelles Located in Enniskillen Lodge #185

Bro. Robert James (Jim) Nelles

Enniskillen Lodge #185

Bro. Jim Nelles was Inner Guard for Enniskillen Lodge #185 during its Centennial Celebrations in 1967. He later moved to Toronto work in the field of architecture. His great-great-Grandfather, John Nelles, was a brother to Col. Robert Nelles. Col. Robert Nelles was a founding member and first Worshipful Master of Union Lodge #15, (later re-numbered 7) at The Forty, (later renamed Grimsby).

Special thanks to Mrs. Alfreda Jefferies for providing the ancestry information. Her great-great-Grandmother (Maria Bingle) was Col. Nelles’ second wife. Married in 1814.

Bro. Robert James (Jim) Nelles and Union Lodge #7 Brethren in Attendance

at Enniskillen Lodge #185’s 150th Anniversary Celebration, January 21, 2017.

V.W. Bro. Olavi Niemi, P.G.S., V.W. Bro. David A. Kemp, P.G.S., V.W. Bro. Donald Lee Sutherland, P.G.Pur.,

Bro. Robert James (Jim) Nelles, R.W. Bro. Robert J. Brooks, P.D.D.G.M.

A Masonic Secret Revealed  

Grimsby Business Block Renovation Uncovers  

Previous Union Lodge No. 7 Lodge Hall  

September, 2013      

Found during the refurbishing of three store fronts on Main St. E. Grimsby, this window which has been covered over for over 90 years was exposed to the light, confirming that Union did in fact meet in this building from Jan. 7th. 1892 – Sept. 20th. 1920. It has always been known that Union Lodge met at this location in the Whittaker Block, but not known exactly where in the building the meetings took place. This window will be stored in the Lodge’s museum so that our Masonic heritage will be preserved.    

Stairwell leading up to the Lodge Room.  

Submitted by V.W. Bro. Howard F. Walters

 Historian, Union Lodge No. 7

Union Lodge’s Involvement in the

War of 1812

With the 200th Anniversary Celebrations of the War of 1812 concluded, there was a lot of interest in the Niagara Peninsula and beyond. Books were published, historical landmarks refurbished and many visitors enjoyed day trips to visit points of interest that were significant during the war. Masons too were interested in what was happening in masonry back then and some visited lodges from that era. Hamilton Masonic District B has one of these Lodges.

As the 18th century was drawing to a close eight pioneer U.E.L. settlers gathered to form a Masonic Lodge under a warrant issued by the Grand Lodge of England, for a Lodge of Masons at the Forty Mile Creek in Upper Canada, as Grimsby was then known.

Union Lodge No. 7, the 4th oldest Masonic Lodge in Ontario, held their first meeting December 17, 1799 at the house of John Foote, a red-framed building sometimes called The Red Tavern, located on the north side of Main St. E., just west of Kingsway Blvd. in Grimsby.

Because of the war of 1812-15 the Lodge was forced to close.  The last meeting recorded being September 26, 1812, when the Lodge closed in perfect harmony at nine o’clock,” and it was not until April 11, 1816, that the next meeting was held.

During the war the jewels, warrant and record books of the Lodge were placed in an old wooden trunk and were hidden in a log house on the farm of Bro. Samuel Kitchen,  located on the south side of Main Street across from Park School. It is recorded that Mrs. Kitchen, who was a great admirer of the Craft, saw that the jewels were kept polished and that the other valuables were in good condition. She often told the story of the hiding of the jewels to Mrs. Forbes, her daughter, who was the wife of R.W. Bro. William Forbes of Grimsby.  At the close of hostilities they  were returned in good condition to the Lodge.

The following is a list of Founding and Early Members with their contributions during the War of 1812.

Col. Robert Nelles – First Master

Col. Robert Nelles’ family was with a group of Loyalists in the Mohawk Valley, New York State, who lost their property and fled into this district between the years 1783 -1787. He built around him a small community. His home, “The Manor,” 126 Main St. West, built in 1798, is often termed the oldest home between Niagara and the Bay of Quinte. He owned and operated a Mill, an Inn, a stage-coach and a boat service. He was elected Township Warden from 1797 until 1801, at which time he was elected to the Legislature of Upper Canada. He represented Lincoln, W. York and Haldimand from 1801 to 1808 and again from 1813 to 1820.

Col. Robert Nelles was largely responsible for the formation of the 4th Lincoln Regiment, of which he was in command at the end of the War of 1812. He served all during the war and was in the battles of Queenston Heights and Lundy’s Lane.

Allan Nixon – First Junior Warden

The Family history records that Allan was commissioned a Lieutenant in the 4th Lincoln Regiment in 1809 and that he served in the War of 1812. But it could only have been for a brief period as both he and his wife, Mary, died within a week of one another early in 1813 of cholera – he on March 19, she on March 25.

Jonathan Moore – First Treasurer

Jonathan was a Lieutenant in the 5th Lincoln Regiment during the War of 1812 and, as he died in 1813, he may have been a casualty.

James Henry – First Deacon

Family records state that Captain James Henry was one of the first settlers of Upper Canada. He was but fourteen years of age when he and his father were travelling over the Allegheny mountains in search of land and he was captured by the Indians and held prisoner by them for four years. At this time when the Indians were at Niagara, he made his escape by paddling a canoe across the river to the Canadian side. The first person he met was Col. John Butler and he put himself under the latter’s charge until he was old enough to take up land. He was a Captain under Col. John Butler in the 4th Lincoln Regiment and served in the War of 1812.

Henry Hixon – First Candidate

 “Captain Hixon”, was active in Masonic and Militia affairs at The Forty. When Governor Simcoe formed his loyal Lincoln Regiments, Henry Hixon became an officer in the 4th Lincoln. He served with that regiment during the War of 1812 and was in several battles. There was a story told by a brother officer, Jonathan A. Pettit, that after the Battle of Stoney Creek, the American army retired to The Forty and were forced to flee from that position when Yeo’s fleet shelled them from the lake. He and Captain Hixon took their arms and went in pursuit along the shore, and captured about 40 American prisoners.

Dr. Cyrus Sumner

Dr. Cyrus Sumner was a well known physician to the pioneer communities of Niagara. He served with General Sir Isaac Brock’s army in the War of 1812, and was the only surgeon attached to the force that occupied Detroit.

The lodge is in possession of his 1804 handmade Masonic apron pictured below.

Garratt’s Trike

Benevolence Project

Union Lodge No. 7

June 10, 2015

“The Pictures Tell It All”

R.W. Bro. Thomas R. Young, District Deputy Grand Master of Hamilton District B, challenged District B Lodges to select their own Benevolence Project during his term 2014 – 2015. A challenge presented itself earlier this year in the request for a special mobility device for a special needs boy.

This challenge came through from the widow of the late R.W. Bro. Paul Reeve, D.D.G.M. of Hamilton Masonic B in 1995. Paul, while terminally ill, told his wife Barbara that should assistance ever be required, “Contact the Masons.” She directed a contact to R.W. Bro. Thomas R. Young for help acquiring this device.

This request was forwarded to Union Lodge No. 7 in Grimsby, the Lodge of the late R.W. Bro. Paul Reeve. The Master of the Lodge, W. Bro. Mathew Milne assumed the project and named it “Garratt’s Trike”. His efforts raised a substantial amount for the cause.

Other Lodges and Masons in and outside Hamilton Masonic District B joined in the effort. Donations were also received from companies and non-masons.

The family thankfully received the trike on June 10, 2015. As Garratt wants to be a fire fighter, W. Bro. Michael Wilson, Worshipful Master of Union Lodge No. 7, (Master Elect at time of the presentation), made the presentation in uniform. Bro. Wilson is an acting Captain with the Burlington Fire Department.

” I am so over the moon. This is going to make such a difference in our lives. I could never thank you enough. He is so in love with his bike.”   Response from a grateful mother.

Fun and Fellowship – A Night at the Races

The above information has been used with permission from Two Hundred Years at “The Forty”,

 the Official History of Union Lodge A.F. & A.M. No. 7, G.R.C. which was compiled by

R.W. Bro. Robert J. Brooks, P.D.D.G.M.

If you are interested, and want to learn more, the Lodge’s Official History – “Two Hundred Years at the Forty” is available for loan at the Grand Lodge Library, Hamilton or Brock University Library, St. Catharines, ON.

[Lodge Image]

Union Lodge Hall